Wednesday, 08 December 2021

Neighbours object to dressage rider’s training school plan

UK dressage rider in training school plan

AN international dressage rider’s plans to build a private riding school in the grounds of her home has drawn complaints from neighbours.

Anna Wilson, of Upper Bolney Road, Harpsden, says she needs the 6.25m high covered training facility in order to further her career.

It would measure 64m by 21m, which meets Olympic standards, and would be in a field behind four adjacent properties. It would have a viewing gallery at one end and a large mirror at the other.

But the occupants of three of the houses have urged South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, to reject Mrs Wilson’s application.

Carl and Cheryl Schofield say the school would be excessive and would clash with its surroundings in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. They say the narrow street was damaged by visiting goods lorries when Mrs Wilson built her stables and associated buildings in 2010 and they don’t want this to happen again.

The couple say: “We consider that the previous application was on a commercial scale and this addition, if granted, would change that to industrial scale. This is unacceptable.

“I can assure the applicant that any absence of official complaints has simply been by virtue of the unappreciated tolerance of her immediate neighbours.

“For the third time now, a very large construction is proposed in full view of neighbours but out of sight of the applicant’s dwelling. The first two were approved but now is the time to reconsider.” Douglas Stevens said: “This application is beyond selfish — it is contemptuous, driving a coach and horses through the district’s local plan. The visual intrusion is unprecedented. Find me a precedent for a 15,000 sq ft arena for one person’s personal use in any other AONB.

“This is an industrial-scale arena... it isn’t visible from the applicant’s house because it’s so visually intrusive and the applicants wouldn’t want their amenity spoiled.”

Russell Poole said: “This development would dominate an already over-developed landscape and would only add to the damage to the AONB caused by the existing large buildings.”

Mr Poole said if the scheme was approved, there should be a planning condition banning commercial use. Mrs Wilson, a dual Polish citizen who has been competing since 2006 and made her international debut for Poland in 2017, says she must be able to train all-year round in weatherproof conditions in order to compete at the highest level.

At the moment she has to hire indoor facilities so the new arena would reduce vehicle trips to and from the site and support her employing both staff and outside contractors to groom and maintain her animals. She says she has no plans to use the school commercially.

Two other Harpsden residents have written letters of support, as have a groom living on site and a small number of people living outside the area.

Harpsden Parish Council says it doesn’t object as long as the school remains for private use only

The district council will decide the application by February 3.

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